The skyscrapers in the suburbs contrast sharply with the uniformly low-slung buildings downtown. The beauty of Paris—basically a flat basin with a river running through it—is man-made. The key to this beauty is the harmonious relationship between the width of its grand boulevards and the height and design of the buildings. This elegant skyline is broken only by venerable historic domes, the Eiffel Tower—and the rude and lonely Montparnasse Tower, which stands like the box the Eiffel Tower came in. The appearance of this black, blocky tower served as a wake-up call in the early 1970s to preserve the historic skyline of downtown Paris.
Looking down from the arch, you get a bird’s-eye view of the crazy traffic you survived to get here. Drivers maneuver their way around the circle—incurring no dents...only scratches—to reach their desired exit and wing off to whatever awaits them in Paris. For more details, please see Rick Steves’ Paris.
For more details, please see Rick Steves’ Paris.
Rick Steves (www.ricksteves.com) writes European travel guidebooks and hosts travel shows on public television and public radio. E-mail him at email@example.com, or write to him c/o P.O. Box 2009, Edmonds, WA 98020.
© 2010 Rick Steves